In Search of England: Winchester

A Bank Holiday Monday fête at the cathedral square in Winchester with a bouncy castle modelled on Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral Square

As the final episode of Channel 4’s documentary Britain’s Most Historic Towns airs tonight, I am going to recount my August bank holiday weekend 2017 in Winchester to add to my account of escapades in York in July 2015. Two historic towns down, four more to go (not counting my school visit to Cheltenham for the Cheltenham Literary Festival)! Here are tips on holidaying in “Britain’s most Norman town”, including 5 must-see places.

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Copenhagen: An underappreciated city

Famous landmarks of Copenhagen in silhouette

From left to right, on the silhouette pasted onto our hotel room wall: The Little Mermaid, The National Opera, Tivoli Gardens, statue of Christian X, Amalienborg, Town Hall.

Lydia, a friend of my friend Qi, told me last January that Copenhagen was doable in a weekend. I had written Copenhagen down as a potential city to visit by then and this had disheartened me. In a ‘which European country should you move to’ personality quiz I took in 2016, Denmark was apparently my ideal post-Brexit home. Nevertheless, the price of flights at the time that I wanted to travel was right, so I did go in the end, with my Mum. We visited over Halloween, flying there on one day, spending four full days in the city without venturing beyond it, and flying back on the 6th day. In my experience, I would say that the opening statement is true if you want to tick off all the things that Copenhagen is famous for, since the Denmark is similar to England in terms of weather and food (mostly gloomy and plain). However, you need more time to see the things that I think Copenhagen should be famous for.

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Dublin: Lessons learned from a bank holiday in Ireland’s capital city

Space Lingus

Dublin 2116 art competition entry

Over the May bank holiday weekend, my Mum and I visited Dublin for the first time. It was my second, more informed, trip to Ireland, and we saw into not only Dublin’s past and present but also future. Other first-timers on a similarly short break, you may find this a good introduction to Dublin. It is not a sightseer’s guide to the city, but more of a recollection of personal impressions of the people and their attitudes, the city’s culture and heritage, the weather, and a few tourist tips we learned by trial during our brief stay.

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In Search of England: York

York Minster

The best place to view of York Minster from the City Walls.

If you’re looking to holiday “at home” in England this summer, as many are doing because of Brexit and terrorism, think about York! I visited for the first time with my Mum and my friend Charles (leaving part-way through) last month. Not only is it one of the most English-feeling cities I’ve stayed in, but this city has many layers of history and a laidback attitude that Londoners lack, and is now my 2nd favourite city in England after London. Whereas previous places I’ve stayed in have been good for transport connections but were themselves unexciting, York ticks both boxes and more. Continue reading


Lisbon: What to love and what not to love about Portugal’s capital city

A doorway in Lisbon

A logo saying ‘love Lisbon’

To love or not to love, that is the question…After a week’s stay in Oeiras with my friend Qi within the Lisbon urban area, here is my answer! In Lisbon I wandered on my own and visited the Castelo de São Jorge (Lisbon Castle), the Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral), the Oceanário, the largest aquarium in Europe, and the Museu de Arte Antiga (or NMAA). Outside of Lisbon I took train rides to Sintra and Belém to visit Sintra Palace, Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleria, the Mosteiros dos Jeronimos (Jerónimos Monastery), and the Torre de Belém (Belém Tower). With Qi and her friends I took train rides to Setúbal and Cascais to visit the Igreja de Jesus Cristo (Church of Jesus Christ), catch the ferry from Setúbal to the Tróia peninsula where there are some pretty beaches, to see the Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth), a famous cliff formation, to play on the beaches at Estoril, and to look at the stalls at the artisan festival in Cascais. I also strolled with Qi and her parents to Carcavelos from Oeiras. Tips: It is popular to rent a bike to get to the Boca do Inferno, but you need your passport. The icing on the cake: If you are lucky, when crossing the Sado River you may see dolphins (we didn’t). Continue reading